Thursday, 13 December 2012

Avoiding the Corporate Christmas Blues

Ever notice how much Christmas is actually just a huge bummer? I mean, I get it…Being seduced by ‘The Christmas Spirit’ is great, and I’ll admit to feeling jolly after stuffing myself stupid with cranberry sauce, literally turning my stomach in a bow full of jelly. The fact of the matter is, though, for many us, a more accurate opening line for ‘Deck The Halls’ would read ‘Tis the season to be stressed and feel like dying’.

When Christmas lights rape your head.
We’ve overcomplicated things because of the significance that gets uncontrolably packed into a few important weeks of holiday. The ‘cheer’ part only seems to resurface in short waves when you’re not sardined into a lineup at Wal Mart or attending the infinitely long and useless company holiday pot latch. When all is said and done, it feels almost emancipating to free oneself of the festive season, no longer bound by solving mysterious gift ideas or navigating the pandemonium of shopping centres during Early Christmas, Black Weekend, Green Thursday, Mid-December, Pre-Christmas, Pre-Pre Christmas, Last Minute, Last Second, I-Literally-Forgot-to-Buy-My-Wife-Something-and-its-6am-on-December-25th, Boxing Day, Boxing Week, New Years and Just-For-Shits-and-Giggles sales. In lieu of the aforementioned, it’s no surprise that something called ‘holiday depression’ is now considered a serious disorder that has become commonplace during this time of year.

Three years ago, I did something that would change the course of Christmas forever: I abstained from gift giving/receiving. This simple yet oh so season-changing decision was met with chagrin from family members and passive scolding from friends, but was also the smartest thing I’d done in a long, long, panic-induced-from-buying-presents time. That December, I avoided all things with a price tag like the plague and didn’t step one foot into a mall, instead finding more time for myself and the people around me. The residual effects on my student-sized wallet and time management strategy were unbelievable, but what made the largest impact were the other changes it would catalyse.

I immediately regret posting this.
I’ve found the simple act of refusing gift exchanges has forced me to find a new approach to Christmas. Suddenly, other, less tangible things became more important, and consequently my experience of Christmas has changed shape over the past few years. My partner and I don’t buy things for each other; instead, we go on trips over the break. This year, I’m co-hosting Christmas Eve for the family for the first time. I read books, see old friends and make food. I’m spending more time preparing for holiday events at PARC instead of creating gift lists.

This isn’t a shameless self-plug or boastful post, nor is it an anti-corporate politically charged message. I am not suggesting widespread gift-less holidays (some people just can’t help it, as I’ve come to learn after having a few slipped to me every year in the wake of my ‘no gifting’ protests). I am suggesting a toning down of the things that are merely physical things, because those things don’t get us closer to each other.

Think about it: what’s the worst thing that could happen if you reduced gift giving? A few long faces on Christmas Day? Confused children? Now brainstorm the benefits. We have a hard time abstracting the true meaning of this time of year from the boxes wrapped in shiny paper, but I promise you that fewer things under the tree equal a Christmas where you don’t feel like sticking your head in an oven. And that’s just priceless.  

Have a safe and happy holiday season. Love, Me.

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